Avis and I welcome you to our first discussion of Wherever You Go by Joan Leegant. We will be discussing the first half of the book, chapters one through eleven. If you haven’t read that far yet, be warned that there may be spoilers in this post and/or in the comments section.
If you’re interested, it’s not too late to join in. The book is 253 pages long, so it would be easy to catch up. To join, click over to the sign-up post on She Reads and Reads.
To start, I think that we picked an excellent book for discussion, as it deals with so many issues: family, faith, relationships. Joan lives half the year in Israel, and I’m sure she has her very own strong opinions on the issue of the settlements and the Palestinians – and yet she has managed to give us a variety of characters with viewpoints that range the spectrum on both Judaism and the Jewish homeland. When I read a book about a political or religious hot-button issue, I am always curious to see if the author will be able to keep the novel even-handed and not write a manifesto of their own opinions. So far, Joan has done that – and the result is that the book is very character-driven, rather than issues-driven.
I don’t want to turn this post into a review, since I have only finished half the book, but I did want to quickly mention that, along with well-written characters, Joan knows how to write setting beautifully. Without being heavy-handed with details, she put me right into the places the characters were, from the overrun-by-children home of Yona’s sister, to the drugged-out apartment of Mark’s ex-girlfriend, to the beautiful streets of Jerusalem.
As a Christian, I was amazed at how familiar some of these issues are to me. It seems that, no matter the religion, you have people who seek the radical fringes, people who decide to forgo the faith altogether, and people who continue to question and seek, while struggling to believe.
In order to get the discussion going, I thought I’d throw out some questions to give you all a jumping-off point. Feel free to answer the questions in your own post or in my comments section – or to skip the questions and simply write your thoughts on the book so far.
~ Wherever You Go has three main characters: Yona, Mark, and Aaron. Which character do you relate to most? Least?
~ Have you ever felt so passionately about a cause that you were willing to change your lifestyle to embrace it, like Yona’s sister has?
~ The relationship between Mark and his father is dysfunctional and strained. Do you think his decision to embrace his religion is somehow related to that? Why or why not?
~ What do you think of Yona’s past actions that caused the estrangement with her sister? Is Dena justified in continuing to hold such a bitter grudge?
~ Aaron’s character remains a bit of a mystery to me so far. I can’t decide if his decision to enter the settlement is simply a rebellion against his father or from a deep-seated belief in the cause. What do you think?
I look forward to reading your thoughts! And don’t forget to visit Avis’s blog, She Reads and Reads, next Saturday – Joan Leegant will be guest posting. Avis will also be hosting the discussion of the second half of the book on October 29th. And as you’re reading, write down your questions for Joan and e-mail them to me at nnjmom at yahoo dot com. The deadline for questions is October 31st – I will post the questions and Joan’s answers here on November 5th.